Physician’s Practice Management—A Wellness Program for Your IT Infrastructure

Updated on May 3, 2015
James Troup

By James Troup

Much like a Wellness Program is key to maintaining physical health and longevity, a proactive approach to protecting data integrity and managing your primary IT infrastructure can make all the difference to your business and bottom line. Equally important is a prescription for a Disaster Recovery Plan. This secondary level of preventative maintenance provides peace of mind and could prove to be the lifeline that will rehabilitate your Practice in the event of a disaster.

As CEO of Pediatric Alliance, one of the largest physicians’ practices in Pittsburgh, I recently went through the process of evaluating our IT infrastructure. When Pediatric Alliance moved patient records to an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system about 2 years ago, we rolled out each of our 14 practice locations one at a time, making adjustments along the way.  During this implementation, it became readily apparent how much time I was spending worrying about our physical IT infrastructure, and how little time I had to focus on customizing the new EHR system and teaching our docs how to use it.

At the time, our computer equipment and servers operated from our corporate office, which was subject to various risks, including an air conditioner on the roof of the building that would overheat and periodically shut itself off without notice. It was clear that we needed to evaluate external data security solutions and providers. In addition to a secure, remote facility for our primary infrastructure, we desperately needed to supplement and augment our in-house staff with a team of experts that we could rely on to proactively monitor and update our equipment.

Ultimately, we made the decision to colocate our primary IT infrastructure to Ascent Data, a local data center just outside of Pittsburgh. They provided an end-to-end network solution with secure connectivity and a stable platform. They are also HIPAA compliant-ready and SAS 70 certified with redundancy, including backup cooling, UPS systems and diesel-powered generators.

My motivation was not only driven by the need for a secure, resilient facility for my primary IT infrastructure, but also to ensure that we were prepared in the event of a disaster. Accurate and accessible records are critical to the health of our patients and business. And it doesn’t take just an historic hurricane or earthquake to wipe out EHR applications. Cyber attacks, extended power outages, hardware and software failures, burst pipes, or human error can all bring a business to its knees.  When disaster of any caliber strikes, having a clear IT recovery plan is like having a pacemaker for your Practice. It will make a critical difference in the extent of downtime, amount of money and data that are lost, and most importantly the ability to bounce back and provide quality patient care.

Our move to the data center was seamless and the coordination with our communications carrier was transparent. Now Ascent Data’s technical staff performs IT maintenance and application updates and monitors our systems around the clock, while I spend my time managing EHR applications, evaluating emerging technologies, growing our business, working with providers and improving patient services. I no longer worry about security, data loss and downtime. If the air conditioner shuts down or a pipe bursts, I can rest assured that our data will be safe and our practice will remain up and running.

Your IT infrastructure is the heartbeat of your operation. If you don’t have an IT Wellness Program in place, everything from Electronic Health Record (EHR) software and confidential patient records, to Accounting, Billing and Payroll applications are at risk.  Don’t wait. Evaluate and adopt an IT preventative maintenance plan that works for your Practice.

About the Author

James Troup, M.S. MIT, currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Pediatric Alliance. He has twelve years of senior management experience with a major focus on technology, and business strategic planning and alignment.  He is an active member of HIMSS, PAeHI, MGMA, ACHE, and the Project Management Institute. James holds a Master’s of Science in the Management of Information Technology from the University of Virginia.


About Pediatric Alliance

Formed in 1996, Pediatric Alliance has grown to be the largest physician-owned group pediatric practice in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Pediatric Alliance is devoted to providing high-quality, comprehensive primary car to infants, children and adolescents through clinical expertise, advocacy, education, collaboration, research and information management.


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